If you happen to come across this post, you probably have worked from home the last month. Are you struggling to figure out the best ways to work from home at the moment? Is it more challenging to work at home than if you were at the office? Luckily, you’re not alone, as many people still struggle to figure out better ways to work from home. It may have been a rough transition six weeks ago, but it might be better for you now. But it’s not too late to look into more ways to make the most of your work from home experience.
The best ways to work from home: What is the best way to work from home?
At this point, there are plenty of ways to maximize your productivity while working from home. So there is no single, best approach to tackling the work from home challenge. Also, if you’ve questioned whether working from home makes you less productive, I came across a 2019 study on remote workers. In a survey of 1004 employees conducted by Airtasker, about 505 of the respondents worked remotely. Some of the highlights included the following:
- Remote workers “worked 1.4 more days every month, or 16.8 more days every year” than the respondents who worked at the office.
- About 29% of remote workers struggled with maintaining a work-life balance, compared to 23% of office workers.
- Around 54% of remote workers felt stressed during the workday, compared to 49% of office workers feeling the same way.
The Airtasker survey from last year shows remote workers slightly benefiting from workers who typically work in an office. Sure, if you take out time to get ready to leave your house and commute to work, working remotely is beneficial in saving time. But as this survey points out, remote workers have some disadvantages to remaining focused at home. As we’ve seen throughout the years, there are pros and cons to working remotely and working in an office setting.
What you can do in 2020: Four best approaches to working from home
As more people work remotely for some time, there are plenty of ways (not just a straightforward method) to boost your productivity at home. Will you encounter distractions? Of course, distractions (personal and work-related) are inevitable, but you can overcome them if you learn how to use your time wisely. For the remainder of this post, I will discuss four different approaches to maximizing your productivity at home. The following points include:
1.) Focusing on time, not the number of tasks to complete
2.) Sticking to a schedule
3.) Taking breaks
4.) Keeping a to-do list (making the right one)
The best ways to work from home:
Focus on the time needed, not on accomplishing tasks
If you write an enormous to-do list each day and expect to check everything off, that may not be the best decision. To-do lists are ubiquitous, but you’re not always going to check more than ten items every single time. Instead of focusing on accomplishing tasks in a single day, figure out how much time you’ll need to complete those tasks. If those ten tasks on your to-do list will take about a week to check off, accomplishing them in one day may be impossible. It’s why I list out only my priorities daily. If my top three priorities will take me a total of 6-12 hours to complete in one day, that’s much more manageable to planning out my day ahead.
How I divide my tasks and time effectively
Recently, I did a little exercise writing out my responsibilities and how much time it’ll take. A typical article such as this post usually takes me between two and a half to three hours to complete. The tasks include research, writing out the post, editing, and sharing the post on my social media accounts. I usually write one-two articles on a given day, so that’s nearly six hours of work for two thorough, well-written articles. So now, I know I can write between 1-3 articles each day, rather than writing 5-10 articles all in one day.
Sticking to a schedule
Similar to working on a set schedule at the office (i.e., 9-5), make sure to stick to a regular schedule each day. Even though it might feel more laid back at home, it’s an excellent way to hold yourself accountable and stay on top of your work. Many workers have a routine when working at the office, so the same thing should apply when working from home. Sure, some days will be different or maybe get out of control, but staying focused on a strict schedule can help you stay less distracted.
Why sticking to a schedule helps me immensely
Besides my work schedule at my primary job (at the office), I stick to a schedule on my off days. When I’m working on my websites, I make sure to set periods during the day to write articles and product reviews. Even having something basic such as Google Calendar, helps me get a heads up of what I need to do daily. I’m good at planning my week, so I know what to do on a specific day. Each individual’s schedule will be different from mine, but whatever methods you use to help stick to a schedule can benefit you in the long-term.
Take breaks (it’s necessary- make sure to take them)
We can agree that taking breaks is needed, but not everyone understands the benefits. In the same Airtasker study, office workers were more likely to take shorter than remote workers. Although past research has indicated, longer breaks can help increase productivity. Taking regular breaks can be one of the best ways to boost productivity. I know some people who don’t take advantage of them, such as working a few hours straight with no breaks. But it can help give the mind a subtle refresh, and likely lead to more creativity while working. So even if they’re between 5-15 minutes long, breaks can be very beneficial to move through your workday.
How I set up my break periods
When I conduct work at home, I make sure to take breaks to keep my mind sharp. In prior years, I wasn’t the best at it, but now I understand that taking brief breaks helps keep my day going smooth. One method that’s helped me in the last several months is the Pomodoro technique. So I’ll focus on one task for 25 minutes, followed by a five-minute break. I’ll do that a couple of times, followed by a more extended break afterward. It’s a standard method to increase productivity, and it helped me get more done in a single day of work.
Keep a to-do list (and do it the right way)
As I’ve mentioned earlier, making a to-do list can be very beneficial. But I believe you have to do it the right way. Instead of writing down a bunch of vague tasks, you need to focus on accomplishing specific priorities. Asking yourself questions such as, “What are two-three things that I need to get done today?” If you focus on those few things, it’ll be easier to get through your day. But especially working at home, having those priorities in front of you can help you stay focused.
My to-do lists
Whenever I make my to-do lists, I’ll do it the night before, so I’m ready to start the next day. Keeping my top priorities in mind, I know immediately that I have to get those tasks done by the end of the day. Whatever else I wrote down that I’ll have time for (just in case), are secondary to me. As long as it’s a few priorities that you keep your eyes on each day, it’ll be more comfortable and less stressful to work at home (similar to working from the office).
As we move forward into 2020, it’s normal to feel concerned during uncertain times. The trend of remote work as the new norm will likely stay in the long-term, but it doesn’t have to be viewed as a bad thing. As I mentioned, it was a rough transition for many workers accustomed to working in an office all day. But as more people get used to working from home, it’ll get much more natural and better to manage time. Some of the approaches listed earlier can help ease some concerns. They’re easy to implement- it’s all a matter of practicing and sticking to a regular schedule. Hopefully, more people will feel more confident in getting things done at home.
Which one of the approaches do you think would help you work from home more efficiently? If you've tried any of them, have they helped you stay focused?
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